From TANKS in Grade 7 .. to a Computer Science PhD in the future

The Tangible Africa coding initiative from Africa to the world.

Over the weekend of 18 to 21 March 30 Unplugged Coding Evangelists gathered in Gqeberha. Culumanco Komanisi was asked to share his story. He started playing TANKS in Grade 7, and is now Grade 11 at Alexander Road High, where he does IT as one of his subjects.

“Morning everyone…

It’s a great pleasure to come and speak to you all this morning. I am here to share my experience with TANKS powered by Tangible.

So what is TANKS you may ask? It is a software application available on Androids that introduces people of all ages to basic computational skills. The application introduces basic programming skills to its users. This application is user friendly, especially for people with absolutely no knowledge about computers, which was me at the time. 

Photo – Meets Mrs Greyling on 21 March 2022 at the RANGERS coding tournament.

When I was doing Grade 6, at Diaz Primary School, Mrs Greyling introduced a small group of learners to TANKS. I was lucky to be in that small group. I felt intimidated, because I didn’t even know how to switch on a computer- we didn’t have a computer at home. It was an honor for me, I finally got a chance to understand how a computer actually works. In the past I thought a computer was the smartest thing in this planet, but I was wrong. With my experience with TANKS, I find out that Computers are actually the dumbest things in this planet; they just follow human instructions. It is us humans who are smarter, not computers.

Photo – Learners at Diaz Primary School playing TANKS

 In this particular day, Mrs Greyling gave us Tokens and Tablets and explained to us how the Application works without actually doing an example. It was kind of tough you can image, a young Grade 6 boy with ignorance on computers, never mind programming being told to code, it was actually the opposite. The GUI (Graphical User Interface) of the application is amazing, it gives a simple guide on how to actually use the Tank Application. The application works as follows, the tokens given are set of instructions directing the tank to the respective destination. We had to structure the tokens using the minimum number of tokens as possible in a way that will direct the tank to its destination. This was very challenging for us. Whenever we couldn’t figure out a particular level and asked for assistance from Mrs Greyling , she would say “Guys I don’t know this stuff, I’m sure you know it better than I do ”, even though I thought this wasn’t true , I didn’t quite understand that response. After some years I got to understand the reason for the kind of response she gave us, I actually appreciate her for that kind of response.